Forget Pigalle: Porn Classics Are Elsewhere

Beverley inside

Beverley inside

One could think that nowadays the only way to watch a porn movie outside of home is to go to a peepshow. Few know that remains one porno cinema in Paris, in a little street of the 2nd district, where most of the porno cinemas used to be until they started closing down, one by one.

Maurice has reached a certain age. Maurice does not know if he is a libertine, but he guesses it is something you can become through necessity. For more than 35 years Maurice has been the director of the Beverley, which is, today, the last pornographic cinema – Maurice likes to say “pleasure movie cinema” – of Paris.

The last porno cinema in Paris 

After the Second World War the Beverley was a neighbourhood cinema. Until 1975 it showed all kind of movies (like western and horror movies, but also adult movies). When cinemas started to get bigger, the competition made it difficult for the Beverley to survive, because its only theatre is rather small. So the director decided to specialise and show only X movies.

In France, like in many countries, “X” refers to those movies forbidden to people under 18 displaying scenes considered as pornographic, very violent or going against human dignity. This classification was introduced by the October, 30th 1975 law and confirmed by other laws. Still in force, these law tax more heavily X classified movies than other ones and deprive them from any public subsidy

If there used to be fifteen porno cinemas or so around the Grands Boulevards area, they all started to close down one by one, except for the Beverley.

‘Pretty lively’ evenings

Everyday, two movies are shown one after the other all day long, continuously, from 11am to 10pm (from 1pm on Sundays and public holidays). On Thursday and Saturday nights, one may actually have to be accompanied to get in for the couples nights, described by some regulars as “pretty lively”. Meaning “things” happen inside the theatre? Maurice does not really answer the question: “I don’t know, I’m the cashier”, he says.

According to him, traditional cinemas might even be more “lively”. “From the moment the room is in the dark, let’s have our hopes free to wonder.” Maurice is a poet. He says the movie being shown, which is from 1973-75, “is like a piece of work from Rodin”.

The newest of his movies is from 1995, most of them from the 80’s, and a few are real classics from the 70’s, when “porn movies were made by a bunch of friends, amongst whom Brigitte Lahaie. They all knew each other, partied together and shot together”. And cinema regulars seem to appreciate this festive atmosphere. A Parisian lawyer even wrote a dedication to Maurice: “The Beverley is an elegant encounter between the body and the mind, converging desire.”

The Beverley in crisis 

Beverley front 2

Le Beverley

Against all expectations, the visitor numbers has decreased more and more during the past years. Although it is less condemned nowadays to watch porn movies, the Beverley faces a real crisis, mostly because of the taxation laws, but not only.

“There is nobody anymore at night. It started with parking problems. The clientele became poorer and poorer. People don’t work and go out the same way anymore. We also used to have customers from everywhere in France, dragged to Paris for exhibitions and fairs. And now the Beverley also suffers from the economic crisis, looses customers, and has an uncertain future, but the main problem remains the taxation law”, Maurice explains.

The entrance costs 12€. Maurice would like to propose a reduced fare but as he says: “If I start to sell reduced tickets for retired people, it will be the only kind of tickets I’ll sell.” 

‘No judgment of any kind’: everyone is welcome 

Amongst the Beverley’s very heterogeneous clientele are a lot of married couples. Maurice even remembers one night when, after closing the cinema, he improvised an impromptu photo shoot of rue de la Lune. In the old days there was an ill reputed institution in this street, and this is the reason why two pregnant women had decided to pose naked there.

At this point of the conversation, Emma and Michel arrive to spend some time with Maurice, who is an old friend. They like to come to the Beverley, because here, “people are well received”. There is no judgement of any kind. People are all respectful towards each other, despite differences of age or condition.

Everywhere else in Paris, Emma and Michel feel watched, judged, even “despised by the good thinking middle-class people”.

According to Maurice, they should not be affected by these attitudes, because to him it is clear that “people spitting on pleasure never really knew it. Sad souls will always be regretful. People used to be way more libertine a hundred years ago.”

When Emma and Michel are asked what really happens inside the theatre, they just smirk and Emma says: “everything is proposed, nothing is imposed.” Ha! “Fortunately!” eventually says Maurice.

From the moment the projections begin to the live activities, there is a warm up period. During the evenings, members of the audience sometimes climb on the stage to read erotic poetry or carry out an improvised striptease or erotico-comical show. At these little games, Belgians are kings, because they are always willing to get involved while French people, according to Maurice, stay shy and judgy.

A place to escape from the world

Michel then tries to explain that a lot of couples live in Paris with their children in tiny apartments, which does not make it so easy to have a proper sex life at home. At least the cinema offers them another way of having fun.

One should also think of disabled people. At the Beverley they are also welcome, even during the couples nights.

At the end of the day, whether you go to the Beverley to watch a movie or just say ‘hello’ to Maurice, you will always have a good time.

Chloé Chateau

To go further:

The Secret World of Parisian Libertinism

The pros: Monia and Denis Grattepain, libertines from head to toe

Lili : a secret libertine life

Aymeric : the one shot experience

Libertinism : the Care Bears world ?

Where to dress for a libertine night out

Le Beverley

Le Beverly, 14 rue de la Ville Neuve – Paris 2e, M° Bonne Nouvelle.

http://le-beverley.info

Everyday from 11am to 10pm (12€)

Sundays and public holidays from 1 to 10pm.

On Thursday and Saturday nights: cinema reserved for couples (and disable people).